One of the most successful sides in the history of the English Football League Trophy will take on one of the newly-promoted sides in League One as Port Vale travel to the University of Bolton Stadium to battle the Bolton Wanderers in their opening game of this tournament on Tuesday.
The Valiants have won this competition twice before, making it beyond the group stage in each of their past four campaigns, while the Whites were only able to win one of their three matches before being eliminated at this competition in 2020-21.
As they look to return to prominence in English football, Bolton have been a delight to watch for fans, though manager Ian Evatt might not be pleased with their defensive shape.
They are currently the second-highest scoring team in League One, with nine goals after five games, but they sit in 13th place because they have not been able to shut up shop when leading.
This domestic campaign began with them rescuing a point in injury time versus MK Dons before surrendering a two-goal lead to draw AFC Wimbledon in their next match.
Their goal scoring has dried up lately, as they have been shut out of their last two matches in all competitions, which included a loss to Wigan Athletic on penalties in the second round of the EFL Cup last Tuesday.
In this competition last season, Bolton paid the price for their slow starts, losing their opening two fixtures and finishing in third.
On Saturday, the Whites had plenty of good looks, earning 74% possession but could only fire one shot on target against the side who finished just a point ahead of them in the League Two standings last season, Cambridge United.
Over their past four campaigns, we have seen two very different Port Vale sides compete domestically and in this competition.
They have finished no higher than seventh in League Two over that stretch but have been much more impressive in the EFL Trophy, topping their group on four consecutive occasions and making it to at least the third round in each of the last three seasons.
Interestingly the Valiants have not lost a group stage game at this tournament since being relegated from League One in 2016-17, and they have only suffered one defeat over 90 minutes at this stage of the competition over the past five seasons.
After three successive draws in league play and their elimination from the EFL Cup, Darrell Clarke saw his side win their first fixture of the year on Saturday, 2-0 over Forest Green.
Holding the league leaders and the highest-scoring team in their division to only one shot on target has to be a significant confidence boost for this team, who will be playing their second game in three days on Tuesday.
Early on this year, Port Vale have rarely been on the offensive, firing three shots or fewer on target in each of their opening three league fixtures, but they have not given their opponents a lot of scoring chances either, collecting three clean sheets.
Nathan Delfouneso will be looking for a bit of redemption after his penalty miss against Wigan sent his side to defeat at the Carabao Cup.
Afolayan was one of only three players to keep his place in the starting 11 this past weekend from their Carabao Cup tie, along with Sheehan and George Johnston.
Dennis Politic will hope to make his first appearance for the Valiants after being loaned to them from Bolton for the remainder of this campaign.
In their last match, Aaron Martin started in central defence in place of Leon Legge, Mal Benning played in a midfield role with Ryan Johnson sitting out, Ben Garrity replaced Lewis Cass in midfield, while Proctor was the preferred choice in attack, replacing Devante Rodney.
Bolton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Gilks; John, Baptiste, Santos, Gordon; Sheehan, Tutte; Afolayan, Sarcevic; Delfouneso, Doyle
Port Vale possible starting lineup:
Covolan; Jones, Martin, Smith, Gibbons; Pett, Conlon, Politic, Amoo; Proctor, Rodney
We say: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Port Vale
Bolton may be in a higher division than their opponents at the moment, but on paper, they are around the same technical level as Port Vale, who seem to play at their best when this competition begins.